Wednesday, April 18, 2012

From So Simple a Beginning - Charles Darwin and Edward O. Wilson

From So Simple a Beginning collects Charles Darwin's 4 masterpieces: Voyage of the H. M. S. Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. One might actually wonder what is the value of buying a volume of 1700 pages for 25 dollars (in Amazon) including texts easily findable online for free (like, for instance, here), or explanations about the evolution theory in formats more understandable for the 21st audience. 

The answer is easy: there is no value. If want to understand Darwin's thoughts, you can indeed read the texts online or, if you are in a hurry, watch this video that explains evolution in 5 minutes. Darwin's texts are mostly unintelligible from a modern reader's perspective, and the fact that we have developed more friendly tools to understand his theory is probably a nice tribute to Darwin himself.

From So Simple a Beginning is not valuable from the perspective of the added value given by the editor to a work published previously. Edward O. Wilson just presents the works of Darwin with a short introduction and an even more succinct conclusion, mainly focused on Darwin's thoughts on god and religion.He could have added footnotes explaining where Darwin was proved right or wrong.

Shortly, From So Simple a Beginning can be a very good decorator. It will actually make you look smart: after all, it is a two pounds book... But there are cheaper and more effective ways to get to know Charles Darwin. 

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